March 23, 2018
We are all sunburned. Grace, Mary, and Juliette all suffered from bikini-induced, ornately sun-patterned backs. Christina chose to not put on any sun screen, revealing her naked shoulders to the whims of a the Costa Rican sun. Rose, on the other hand, applied liberal amounts of SPF 30, which had unfortunately expired in 2016. She thought that Christina had slathered it onto her back, but was disappointed to discover a nasty burn on her supposedly protected skin. Finally, Liam, who had vowed to never see the a burn again after a nasty experience in 2010, suffered elbow, top of foot, and neck burns.
Despite the slight discomfort, our final day began like any other. We woke up in the all-too-sticky heat to the now familiar sounds of nature. The plan was to collect data for our independent studies. After a 7:30 breakfast and a pep-talk/debrief from Cathy, our individual groups were ready to begin collecting data. The range of ecological inquiries was vast. One group set out to discover how abiotic factors predict crawfish abundance in a rainforest stream. Another, Christina’s group, compared forest structure (as measured by the distribution of tree DBH — diameter at breast height) in ephemeral vs permanent streams. The final group, Rose’s, counted epiphytes (air plants) at the edge of the forest and the interior of the forest. All groups encountered difficulties with their original protocol, amending them and ironing out the kinks as they worked in the field.
Tender skinned, and slightly disgruntled, Rose trudged up the road with her three other group mates to set up belt transacts and to search the canopy with binoculars for epiphytes. Juliette truly carried the group. Opting to pick her way through the interior of the canopy, she fought off thorny vines and steep slopes to set up transects.
Initially bleary-eyed, Christina was soon roused by a couple snake sightings by Isa and Grace. Armed with Theo’s machete, Isa’s clapping, Grace’s music, and some out of time singing, Christina’s group accomplished their tasks. Finishing their data collection with some time to spare, they basked in the pre-noon sun, enjoying the beautiful scenery of a previously untraversed part of the river.
While at first, the going was tough, after a long morning of working together, all groups finished their work, satisfied and ready for the last lunch cooked by Marianella.
After lunch, we had time to pack and to gather our wits and data before setting out to the beach town of Dominical. There, some students braver than others chose to face the late afternoon sun on the beach. Others wandered the store fronts, looking for keepsakes to bring home to their loved ones. Finally, the group gathered to enjoy our last dinner together. Tomorrow we depart at 8:30 to catch a 3 pm flight home. With bittersweet feelings in our hearts we say “goodbye” to Firestone and “hello” to New York.
~Rose and Christina